Aesthetic Scandal and Accessibility: The Subversive Simplicity of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey
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Rupi Kaur’s debut poetry collection, milk and honey, has been accused of inadequate difficulty by critics and consumers seeking to discredit her work. What is difficulty in poetry, and why is it so central to poetic value? Difficulty in poetry is an affective response to a variety of writing strategies that obstruct a reader's interpretive capabilities. It has remained a central aesthetic priority in poetry since the early twentieth century, a legacy of high modernism. It can also be understood as a reading practice, by which readers can work through such interpretive challenges. Kaur’s poetic style is direct and accessible, which disrupts the systems of value that typically support poetic work by resisting difficult reading practices. Kaur’s non-difficulty frustrates many of her readers and critics, creating an aesthetic scandal around her work. Her non-difficulty, however, can be valued as a subversion of dominant aesthetic values in poetry.